Give it away, give it away … now

Five quick reasons off the top of my head you should give a version of your service or product away for free.  And if you think this only applies in a for-profit context, see Part 2.


Here you go.  The reasons you should give it away:

  1. You will establish relationships you wouldn’t have otherwise.  Not just the met-you-at-a-networking-event-pinged-you-on-LinkedIn kind of relationship.  Relationships with people who have witnessed your brand of value firsthand and can talk about it from experience.  We all want more and more and more of these.  They are a precious possession in a difficult economy.
  2. People who are ready to pay for something weren’t always in that state.  This is your chance to travel back in time and start the conversation earlier.  You will learn a ton about purchasing behavior with regard to your product or service.  You might even change how you market the not-free versions.
  3. You will possess a growing list of people who think of you as kind, giving, and helpful.  Gosh, sounds great, doesn’t it?  It will come in handy.
  4. A transactional relationship–i.e. money–modifies behavior (another post for another time).  I promise you will learn a thing or two about yourself when you deliver something of value with zero expectation of something in return.  You might even learn why you do what you do in the first place.
  5. Someone’s underselling you already, anyway.  Believe it.  So render the point moot and get the conversations going while your competitor is still sitting in a meeting trying to figure out how to price the intro level.
  6. (Bonus reason).  Many of us spend a significant portion of our lives in a protective posture.  Lowest feasible price on the things we pay for; highest feasible price for the things we sell.  I get it; it’s natural and necessary most of the time.  But this is your chance to exhale, take a little risk (that isn’t one), and enjoy all the positive attention your audacious act will attract.


Reason 6 brings back a great memory–a recent incident when I witnessed this philosophy in the most unlikely of places:  a car dealership.  My wife and I were driving across the wilds of eastern Nevada when several strange warning lights appeared on the dashboard of our Toyota 4Runner.  Not what we wanted to see as we began our summer vacation.  Well, after a little smartphone searching, we found a big Toyota dealer south of Salt Lake City, a few hours away.  We crossed our fingers that the car wouldn’t expire in the middle of the desert and set our course for Larry H. Miller Toyota.  I did some deep breathing in preparation for a half day sitting in the dealership lounge that would inevitably conclude with an exorbitant bill to fix something I don’t understand.

Long story short is that, not only did the service center let us leapfrog their appointments because of our “driving across the country” situation, but after they spent 30 minutes running all the sundry computer tests and finally diagnosing the problem as not a big deal, they … (drumroll)… charged us nothing.  Nada.  The service manager just shook my hand and gave me specific instructions for what to do if the problem cropped up again.

I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been.  Good business people are everywhere.  The managers at the dealership clearly understand all six reasons above and, if they treat their local clientele the way they treated me, I can assure you their business thrives as a result.

Can you imagine the net positive effect of having a few stories like that bouncing around in your local market?




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